Ruth: The missing facts in Jeb Bush's foreign policy speech

Published Aug. 14, 2015

For former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-I Feel Petty, Oh So Petty, to go all Capt. Renault on everyone in expressing how shocked, shocked he was over President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton royally mishandling Iraq is a bit like Gen. George Custer blaming the Pilgrims' policy toward Native Americans for his unfortunate turn of events at Little Big Horn.

But there was the Thurston Howell III of Kennebunkport the other day making his obligatory hajj to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to castigate Obama and Clinton over Iraq. He accused Clinton of "standing by" while events on the ground imploded and terrorist groups like ISIS gained greater influence in the region.

The Col. Kurtz of Coral Gables was only getting warmed up in his historical (or hysterical?) flight of fantasy, as Bush criticized Obama — with Clinton's support — for prematurely withdrawing U.S. ground troops from Iraq, which he dubiously claimed laid the groundwork for today's chaos.

If you want to take issue with Obama's management of Iraq, fine, fair enough. Hand-wring away. But in the end, there is only one person responsible for today's Persian Gulf calamity, and Jeb needs to look no further than the family tree to find his feckless older brother, George W. Bush, as the prime architect of Iraq's anarchy.

It was George W. Bush and his handpicked stooges who literally lied the United States into an unnecessary war with a nation that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. But you didn't hear that in Jeb Bush's speech.

It was because of his brother's ineptitude and lack of understanding of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region that after hostilities began, the Bush administration all but assured neighboring Iran would now have a compliant, albeit corrupt, ally. But you didn't hear that in Jeb Bush's remarks at the Reagan shrine.

It was because of George W. Bush that we had a president who surrounded himself with a cabal of towel-snapping war-mongers led by Vice President Dick Cheney who were wrong about every assumption regarding Iraq, from the weapons of mass destruction canard to "we'll be greeted like liberators." But you didn't hear that in Jeb Bush's demagogic diatribe.

It was because of George W. Bush that by the most conservative estimates more than 4,500 American troops have lost their lives, more than 30,000 more troops have returned home hurt and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed, all based on a fetid tissue of lies. But you didn't hear that in Jeb Bush's critique of Obama and Clinton.

The timetable to begin to withdraw troops from Iraq began on George W. Bush's watch. But you didn't hear that in his brother's speech, either.

Just a few weeks ago, Jeb Bush shared a stage with Clinton, which would have represented a golden opportunity for him to directly confront the former secretary of state over what he perceived were her diplomatic shortcomings. That didn't happen.

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And during the GOP presidential debate in Cleveland in which Donald Trump revealed himself to be a bigger misogynist than Rush Limbaugh, Bush said nothing. Only days later, when Trump was nowhere in sight, did Bush summon the appropriate outrage over the beach ball from hell's sexist comments. Now there's a profile in courage for you.

Despite his ham-handed efforts to foist off the shambles of Iraq on Obama and Clinton, as if his stumblebum brother was blameless in turning the Persian Gulf into a version of Mad Max, the Prince of Coral Gables offered no solutions of his own. Nothing.

At least the former governor did not propose sending more troops to the region, sensing perhaps voters would recoil in horror at the thought of yet another Bush taking up residence in the Situation Room.

If there is a lesson to be learned by Jeb Bush from all this, it might be that cleaning up the toxic mess left behind by his brother is a mission likely to never be accomplished.